Millets have been recognized as an important crop, particularly owing to its nutrition content, their potential for income generation and also as climate resilient crop. However, a lot of work goes into harvesting and processing millets. Since a majority of the post production work on millets is done by women, there is a case for the introduction of machines in the process.
The three day Dialogue on millets (Millets, Monsoon and the Market) at MSSRF discussed many aspects of millets from production to post harvesting and commerce. The session on ‘post harvesting of millets: the gaps and needs’ highlighted the main problems in the processing of millets.
Millet processing is a laborious task, which involves a lot of drudgery and is very time consuming. Currently, millets are manually harvested and threshing is done on the roads. The manual process leads to a lot of wastage, in which many grains are broken and are also of not uniform size. There is a lot of inefficiency in the harvesting of grains. Also, many aspects need to be taken of while harvesting including moisture content and nutritional levels.
Ms K.S. Akshaya of Perfura Technologies India Pvt Ltd, Coimbatore, spoke of –set of machines available now for streamlining the process of harvesting and processing of millets for consumption. She made the following suggestions for easing the process of millets processing.
- Government funding for supporting R&D activities
- Subsidizing post harvest agricultural machinery like tractors for community level farmers
- Collective processing of millets especially from small and marginal lands, which can be done through an FPO model.
- Credit and insurance support of crops to farmers -
- Continuous monitoring for standardization
- Promotion of smaller machinery and creating awareness among the community about its usage.
Mr S K Aleksha Kudos, Scientists at the CIAE Regional Centre in Coimbatore, also spoke of the many innovations in machinery available to farmers which can be used at the village level. Mr Kudos said the machines developed by them are easy to handle, adaptable to local conditions and the village level prototype could be used with a single phase power. Most importantly, the machines developed by the CIAE could significantly reduce the drudgery of women, with the process of de-hulling reducing by 50-70%.